The YouTube Files – Going For Gold USA.

Run For The Money (ABC, 1987)

This is another American version of a British game show. Going For Gold was a success in the UK (and across Europe), being shown in a daytime slot on BBC1 for almost a decade, and then being reworked as One To Win on Channel 5, before there was another revival back under the Going For Gold name. There has also been a French version that has run for over 30 years. But did you know that in 1987 there was an attempt to launch Going For Gold in America? There is an edition on YouTube, so here’s the comparison.

Run For The Money began with all the contestants being introduced, but not with a theme informing us that “people are coming… and everyone’s trying“. The host was Bill Rafferty, who hosted a few other game shows around this time including the American versions of Blockbusters, Every Second Counts and Play Your Cards Right. The set design was just about identical to the British version. vlcsnap-00977

Four contestants took part. There was no qualifying round here, so the first round was the first round, if that makes sense. In this round, questions are asked on the buzzer. There are no categories though, and the contestants don’t choose the value of the question, the host states whether they are worth one, two, or three points. The first three contestants to score nine points progress to the next round. Once one contestant has progressed, all questions become worth two or three points. Eliminated contestants don’t have the chance to return the next day and try again. vlcsnap-00978

The next round was just about identical to the British version. Choose one of four categories, and then try to give four consecutive correct answers in 40 seconds, with the two highest scorers progressing to the final. The eliminated contestant gets $100. Again, the final round is very similar to what viewers will be familiar with, even if it doesn’t contain people from The Netherlands or Belgium. vlcsnap-00979

Questions are asked with four time zones (not phrased in the “what am I?” style). Remember that you can only buzz in when the time is in your zone (and yes, the trailing contestant is told “you’re playing catch-up!”). The first contestant to score nine points wins. There was no weekly knockout format in this version, but there was a cash prize on offer. $5,000 is won for every daily win, and if a contestant wins five consecutive shows, their money doubles from $25,000 to $50,000 and they retire undefeated. The losing finalist gets $500. vlcsnap-00981

We won’t ever really know if Run For The Money could’ve been a long-running success in America because it never got past the unaired pilot stage. It was interesting to note though that a lot of the rules and phrases were already established in this version and weren’t designed specially for Going For Gold. I bet that they wouldn’t have guessed at the time that this show would’ve done so well in Europe.

Game Show Memories – Going For Gold.

Going For Gold (BBC1, 1987-1996)

Another game show review, and even though it was only ever shown in daytime, this show became very popular. It was partly because people were coming, and everyone’s trying. This review will mostly be based on the first series.

It was the show where people competed to become the quiz champion of Europe. Henry Kelly was the host and revealed to find that champion would take 23 weeks because of the rather compilated knockout system. But we were assured that after 92 episodes and nearly six months we would have our winner who received the star prize of a trip to the Olympics in Seoul, and there were a few other smaller prizes on offer for the runners-up. vlcsnap-00255

The contestants came from 14 countries across Europe and in the rather overcrowded preliminary round they were asked “what am I?”-type questions as four were needed to progress to what was oddly called “the first round proper”. vlcsnap-00256

At this point Henry would talk to the contestants about their interests and a lot of viewers found it rather amusing as he tried to start a conversation with some guy from Holland or Austria. They then answered questions on categories, the first three to score six points go into the next round. vlcsnap-00257

In the four in a row round, contestants simply had to pick a category and then get four questions right in a row in the time they had. The two highest scorers then went into the final. This round was memorable for the catchphrases such as “the big four zone” and “playing catch-up”. The winner was the first to nine points. Congratulations Hans, you’re into the next round! This carried on for endless weekly finals, semi-finals and so on until they finally got their super champion many months later. vlcsnap-00258

This format carried on for many years, until curiously, in the final series the show only featured contestants from the UK so they were all representing their various counties to keep it competitive. I do believe that the early series were shown across Europe though and it gained a following in various countries. vlcsnap-00259

Going For Gold ran for nine years on the BBC, and a few years later, Channel 5 revived the show under the name One To Win (not to be confused with the other One To Win that I reviewed recently that was actually a revival of Bob’s Full House). Then, about a decade later, Channel 5 revived it again, but this time back under the Going For Gold name. However, this time it was an hour long so there was a lot of padding with annoying phone-in competitions and it lasted just one series.

I did enjoy watching Going For Gold but it’s not my favourite BBC daytime game show, I’ll writing about that soon, it’s a show that is less famous but I think is a lot better. The Going For Gold format does still linger though, the French version is still very popular to this day.